Schwarz, Christian A. "Chapter 1: Explore the Second Chapter of NCD." Color Your World with Natural Church Development: Experiencing all that God has designed you to be. St. Charles, IL: Church Smart Resources, 2005, 10-43.
"NCD" is a reference to Schwarz' earlier book, Natural Church Development. In that book he laid out principles which he considered universally applicable, regardless of your part of the world or theological orientation (Schwarz 2005, 9). Schwarz urges the idea that church growth is to be built on a theologycal foundation which in turn is based on research of many different churches (Schwarz 2005, 10-11).
Schwarz notes that churches which have followed his system, when measured according to his surveys, have shown improvements in both quality and numbers. His measures of quality are not identified at this point in the book (Schwarz 2005, 12). However, he claims a greater than 50% increase in the rate of conversions in these churches after 31 months of using his program. He goes on, advertizing the program he leads as "a pure network" with "no committees, no hierarchies, not ocnstitution" (Schwarz 2005, 14). This he immediately contradicts by describing his headquarters, a very humble location, and the people who have coordinated others to make the work happen.
Schwarz' organization has developed an NCD survey, which he considers a diagnostic tool. He then says that the rest of NCD is not a series of unrelated tools, but a way (the way?) of bringing the local church into a health condition (Schwarz 2005, 17). They classify the treatment into five basic tools, or components, but distinghish these from actual principles. The description of tools given on p. 18 makes reference to various parts of the book, but articulates remarkably little about the overall concepts.
Schwarz distinguishes "principle-oriented" approaches to church growh from others. He notes that principles are universally valid, proven statements of essential truth, which are given generally but must be individualized so as to work (Schwarz 2005, 19). There are several different principle-oriented approaches. He proceeds to discuss several, but then says they are not truly principle-oriented (Schwarz 2005, 21). He concludes the section by saying, in vague terms, that Willow Creek Church is principle oriented becaus the pastor "clearly seeks God's calling for himself and his church" (Schwarz 2005, 22).
Schwarz describes his principles as drawing diverse groups together using universals which all Christians can share (Schwarz 2005, 23). He remains vague about them at this point.
Schwarz goes on to describe the importance of evaluating the church based on quality. His contention is that numerical growh will naturally follow (Schwarz 2005, 25). Because in 1996 he was able to develop a tool "to measure quality precisely" the world has allegedly been revolutionized (Schwarz 2005, 26). The church made of Christians who are growing in quality will grow numerically as well.
Schwarz also notes that his program is multi-cultural (Schwarz 2005, 28). He particularly draws a picture of the global West as a place of competition, the East as a place which values harmony, and the South as a place which values solidarity. All these orientations have strengths and weaknesses. Schearz sees a need for the strengths to work together.
The NCD approach self-consciously avoids what Schwarz calls "media hype" - efforts are focused on long-run interpersonal processes (Schwarz 2005, 33). Larger churches may havea tendency to focus on program prese Smaller churches tend to do better on the interactions that boost quality (Schwarz 2005, 34). Developing an interest in the actual spiritual lives of those in the community may well be more useful than improving presentation or production values. Schwarz suggests that of all the measures of success commonly used, the roll of people evangelized and discipled is the most important (Schwarz 2005, 36). He goes on to make a comparison of typical churches to David and Goliath based on their size. The larger one is less efficient and is defeated by the smaller one (Schwarz 2005, 38).
With a clear look at reality, Schwarz says we can develop good practices. To do this, we may need our vision improved (Schwarz 2005, 39). He continues to muddy the waters, though, by a preview of the concept of chapter two. "The wonderful thing about the Trinitarian Compass is that it doesn't try to push you into a direction that somebody else...has defined as important (Schwarz 2005, 40).
Schwarz sees life as a cyclical process involving information, application, and transformation. All are important. Completing the cycle with transformation leads us to new information and repetition of the cycle (Schwarz 2005, 41-42). His goal in this book is to enable readers to enter the cycle.